By Onochie Anibeze
Sports is part of entertainment and this partly explained why he took huge interest in not only what we did on the sports desk but also in Nigerian sports.
Ogbonnaya Amadi always contributed to sports discourse. He did so because he followed sports. He also wanted us to remain a force in sports reporting and contributed story ideas.
I also took interest in his beat, sometimes offering contributions too. What many didn’t know was that this relationship was informed by our long history of work in Vanguard.
Ogbannaya and I were interviewed by a panel led by Alhaji Kola Animasaun and we were employed the same day in Vanguard.
I started as judiciary reporter, learning the ropes under Richard Akinola and Ogbonnaya also covered other beats like telecommunications before stabilizing as an entertainment reporter where until Wednesday night he remained the longest serving entertainment writer in Nigeria. He worked with passion and he broke news every time.
Ogbonnaya was our Group Entertainment Editor. I was not feeling well and had to leave office early Wednesday night. I left office about 8pm and at about 9 pm Tony Ubani called me and uttered one proverb that I didn’t understand. He then came blunt: “Ogbonnaya Amadi is dead.”
Silence. Then a scream and silence again. The phone went dead. Another call followed and Tony explained that Ogbonnaya had an asthmatic attack while still in the office. It was such that his inhaler was not helping much and he had to be rushed to the hospital at Olodi Apapa.
Francis Oji of our admin department added that the traffic on the road did not help matters and at a point Ogbonnaya had to ride on a motor bike to the hospital.
“On getting to the gate of the hospital he slumped and doctor’s test confirmed him dead,” Francis said yesterday morning.
Death oh death, why are you wicked? Why do you snatch people like that? So, Ogbonnaya Amadi is gone? Is this how thin the line between life and death is? That somebody I worked with in the office and who was not ill would die few minutes after I left him in the office?
What is this life all about? What world do we live in? I have been hurt by deaths. I don’t know if this will ever stop hurting.
My father was killed in the North during the Nigerian crisis that eventually led to the civil war. We were kids and what death meant had not dawned on me at the time. But it hurt badly as I grew up under a single parent. But my mother did everything to also father us. She remains my life time heroine.
Another death that has continued to hurt was that of my childhood friend, Nick Ikeji. He died in a motor accident. The next was that of Sam Okwaraji, my close friend who died in Lagos while playing for Nigeria in 1989. Sam had told me to bring Holy Water to him before the World Cup qualifier against Angola.
He also told me that we would go clubbing on the night to celebrate their expected victory. Led by the then Sports Editor, Ikeddy Isiguzo, we ended up searching for his body in hospitals before we located it in the Lagos Island morgue. 23 years on, it still hurts. And now Ogbonnaya is gone.
I’m short of words. I can only pray that God accepts his soul. I can only pray that God grants us all, especially his family, the fortitude to bear this great loss. May the souls of the faithful departed and that of Ogbonnaya Amadi, through the mercy of God, rest in PEACE. Amen.